On June 5, 2002, fourteen-year-old Elizabeth Smart was taken from her home in the middle of the night by a religious fanatic, Brian Mitchell. She was kept chained, dressed in disguise, repeatedly raped and told she and her family would be killed if she tried to escape.
In her book, My Story, Elizabeth further describes her experience in captivity:
I was always terrified. Terrified of what was coming. Terrified of the thought that it was thirty years before Mitchell would die and I could be free. I had no dignity. No freedom. No power over my body. No power over what I ate, what I drank, what I heard, or what I read. It was endless hours of indoctrination—hearing about my captor’s journey, hearing how smart Mitchell was and how he was the chosen one. I was a prisoner in heart, mind and soul.
On Thanksgiving Day, 5 months into her captivity, Elizabeth said, “I’m supposed to count my blessings. But, I wondered if I had anything to be thankful for? At first, I didn’t think so. Then, I started to make a list:
- I still believed in God.
- I knew that Jesus was the Savior of the world.
- I knew that Jesus was near. I felt His presence every day. Jesus was the only reason I had been able to keep my sanity. He kept me strong and gave me hope.
- I still had a family. I didn’t get to be with them, but someday I thought I would.
- I was hungry, but I was healthy. Though I didn’t get any dinner, I had been able to eat lunch at the Home Town Buffet which had turned out to be a really great meal. Millions of people around the world hadn’t eaten anything all day.
- One day I would be able to get away from my tormentors.
- One day I would be free.
- The gray tent kept the sun off.
- The trees around our camp kept the wind at bay.
I kept adding to my list of blessings until I eventually fell asleep.”
I am humbled by Elizabeth’s example of finding things to be thankful for even in her horrific situation, even in captivity. Maybe her story will inspire us to also be thankful in whatever situation we find ourselves.
You can read more about Elizabeth’s story in her new book, My Story. If you read it, her story may impact your story.